Can’t win a political argument? Then put everyone to sleep in order to get your way. Details of the new US-EU trade agreement will be public — in 30 years. This relevant point is buried behind inscrutable acronyms, boring jargon, and trendy words such as “transparency” or “stake-holder.”
“One might be forgiven for concluding from this, and in general from the obfuscatory and often downright misleading bureaucratese in which TTIP’s aims are framed, that they are trying to hide something,” according to Steven Poole writing in the US edition of The Guardian. “However, the official TTIP literature itself relentlessly invokes the modish political virtue of “transparency”.
See the full clever and informative article here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/21/steven-poole-language-power-disarm-concerned-citizen
Let’s have some fun. What your girl friend really means:
Is it Ok to put the word “illegal” in the name of your restaurant such as Illegal Pete’s opening next month in Fort Collins, CO? If you know Illegal Pete’s is a Mexican restaurant, is it still OK?
Many community members are answering “No.” The discussion joins a controversy that has been running for several years, according to Lawrence Downes, who wrote a 2007 commentary in the New York Times, which explains it well.
“”Since the word modifies not the crime but the whole person, it goes too far,” Downes wrote.” It spreads, like a stain that cannot wash out. It leaves its target diminished as a human, a lifetime member of a presumptive criminal class.”
There’s an insightful discussion at The Coloradoan: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/local/2014/10/27/language-expert-dissects-illegal-illegal-petes/18011229/
Robert Darnton offers a useful reminder that not all societies are as dedicated to free speech as the US. In fact, some intellectuals have seen censorship as a valuable way to form and maintain civil society.
Darton’s new book Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature (published by W. W. Norton) examines censorship in three societies. Revolutionary France, imperial India, and East Germany.
His detailed examples give use second thought on the value of censorship. Some censors have acted more like editors, enhancing the author’s work. Some not.
His blog is worth a read: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/sep/17/what-is-censorship/
Most people trace the origin of “humanitarian bombing” to the war in Kosovo in 1999. It was well articulated by Václav Havel: “I believe that during intervention of NATO in Kosovo there is an element nobody can question: the air attacks, the bombs, are not caused by a material interest. Their character is exclusively humanitarian: What is at stake here are the principles, human rights which are accorded priority that surpasses even state sovereignty. This makes attacking the Yugoslav Federation legitimate, even without the United Nations mandate.”
Get that? No questioning. Once we label indiscriminate explosions over a large area of enemy territory “humanitarian,” it’s time for peaceniks to move on.
Humanitarian bombing is how President Obama ushered us back into Iraq. It was the cover for saving an ethnic group no one ever heard of before.
To widen the war, Obama now builds on the foundation of humanitarian maiming by using the pretense that will we “degrade and destroy” the enemy. (It does not matter who the enemy is. What matters is our conduct.)
Once again, he tells us this will be so controlled and surgical. Nothing will go wrong. We won’t be bombing wedding parties in Yemen and Afghanistan.
Such clean descriptions of humanities’ most brutal act have a long history. In the 1950s, we invented “Victory through Air Power,” an antiseptic way to control our enemy without getting dirty. Vietnam, where we dropped a greater tonnage bombs than we did in WWII, destroyed that lie. But by the first Iraq war, enough time had passed so we forgot. The concept was called “precision bombing” with “smart bombs.” Again, as recent events show, a complete failure.
Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has once more shown us his most effective political skill: a great speech.
Use this simple trick to examine your emails to see what your status is: count the number of “I” word you use and your correspondent uses. Whoever uses the word more has a lower status, according to James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin.
We tend to be more self conscious when talking to a person of higher status so we emphasize the “I” more.
See more and find the software to help you count words here:
Even showing by example isn’t enough if you don’t articulate what you doing. So says Bill Taylor in the latest edition of Harvard Business Review online. He is the cofounder of Fast Company magazine.
“The only sustainable form of business leadership is thought leadership. And leaders that think differently about their business invariably talk about it differently as well,” he says. Successful business leaders must “be able to explain, in language that is unique to their field and compelling to their colleagues and customers, why what they do matters and how they expect to win.”
See the whole article:
Business jargon — no matter how ridiculed — always seems to survive. Here’s some new buzzwords:
Think Data (more than the facts)
Digital Mesh (online service expanding to more
Surge Pricing (you can guess).
“The sad truth is that when most people hear someone using abstract language, they’re more likely to respect that person.” This from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
People remain impressed with big abstract words. Here’s a report from Inc. Magazine: http://www.inc.com/jill-krasny/want-more-power-use-corporate-jargon.html
For a list of business jargon to avoid (or use obsessively), look here: http://www.inc.com/ss/stop-using-this-business-jargon
College students, of course, are the most dangerous. They are learning and exploring and oh so disrespectful of the social standards we have locked into place.
The latest transgression comes from Lewis Clark College. A white student and an African American student, close friends were playing an unidentified game. According to reports, when the black one scored, he yelled “Team Nigga.” When the white one scored, he yelled, “White power.”
They are suspected of laughing. Somebody in the next room turned them in.
Campus living director Kelly Hoover and Associate Dean of Student Engagement Tricia Brand stated officially, “Your use of racially charged language, intentional or not, was reckless and created an environment where others in the space felt it was necessary to correct your behavior. More broadly, your actions caused reasonable apprehension of harm to the community.” The students were reprimanded and put on probation.
Now that the student paper has shined a light on the incident, administrators have clammed up.
The students were disciplined for making fun of a rigid authoritarian mindset that is the basis of the disciplinary process.
Here’s the account from The Oregonian newspaper: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2014/04/free_speech_group_objects_to_l.html